This was written for the kink meme prompt: AU where Phoenix is a teenaged check out chick (but, not an actual chick...). I think he'd be one of those really friendly guys, and all the little, old ladies insist he serve them. And teen!Edgeworth is his favourite customer. And Edgeworth hates chain stores but he suffers cause he wants to see Phoenix.
I love love love this idea. Tried to match it as well as I could; you'll have to tell me whether I succeeded.
Miles hated shopping at chain stores. He hated the crowds, the noise, the lack of organization, the way you always spotted something else that you needed and ended up buying far more than anticipated and taking forever. Most of all, he hated the store employees. They never knew where anything was, were rude and grumpy, and took an unreasonably long time to scan a barcode. Not to mention the bagging dilemma – either they were impatient and expected you to bag your own items, or they bagged them for you and put the eggs under the milk and scattered frozen items across every bag. Miles despised chain store employees.
And yet, he spent a good several hours a week shopping at a chain store, and it was all because of one of the employees there. His nametag read 'Phoenix', but Miles couldn't believe anyone would be stupid enough to name their child that. Then again, the boy himself was rather stupid, so maybe they'd considered it fitting. Phoenix was always smiling, a huge dopey grin, and chatting far too familiarly with his customers. The line at his checkout lane was always longer than all the others; but not because he was slow or unable to operate the cash register – actually, he was by far the fastest.
The other checkout clerks that were around when Miles came by after school were abominable employees. Larry (he assumed, though the handwriting on the nametag was so awful it looked more like Lohhy) couldn't operate the register, bagged incorrectly, and hit on all his female customers to boot. Maya was a sweet girl in comparison, but she also couldn't seem to add numbers correctly to save her life (though other teenage boys shopping there didn't ever seem to mind). And Wendy was just a terrifying old hag.
It was understandable that customers would prefer Phoenix. But their behavior went beyond just avoiding the other clerks; the reason Phoenix's line took so long to move forward was because, although he quickly tallied the orders, his customers always took their own sweet time paying so that they could chat with him. Miles always ended up in a line made up primarily of little old ladies each taking five minutes to pay for one can of cat food, chatting with Phoenix about the progress of their physical therapy and who was on a bingo-winning streak this week.
And Phoenix nodded along interestedly and greeted them all by name and even remembered the names of the cats the cans were for, and grinned hugely the whole time like an idiot, and Miles got so annoyed he'd almost want to switch lines, but then he'd reach the front and Phoenix would smile at him and he would start wanting to take five minutes paying with pennies like that last woman, just so he could stay here that much longer.
He never did, of course. Miles always paid quickly with a single swipe of his debit card, then took his small purchase and got out of there as quickly as possible. He was as unsociable as Phoenix was friendly, and then he always spent the ten-minute walk home irritated with himself. This had been going on for several weeks now, and Miles didn't really expect anything to change.
But they ran out of pickles late one night and it wasn't the sort of thing that needed immediate replacing, but his father must have figured something out when Miles had started buying single half-gallons of milk four times a week instead of two full gallons at the start and letting that last, because he handed Miles five bucks and told him the need for more sliced dill pickles was absolutely dire.
Miles grumbled all the way down to the store, but he was honestly still rather disappointed when the only familiar face he saw at the registers was Wendy's. But of course, it made sense. The only reason he'd seen those same people so often was because their shifts overlapped the time he usually went shopping after school. With the exception of Wendy, everyone looked like they were also in high school – of course they wouldn't be working around the clock. Miles began his search for pickles with an internal sigh.
Fifteen minutes later, he had been through every aisle at least once, and half of them twice that, and he was starting to get seriously irritated. He'd returned to the aisle which held every other kind of pickle for the third time now, and was staring at the selection: full pickles, half pickles, chunks, dill relish, sliced sweet pickles – really, it didn't matter that much. He should just pick one, but this was starting to become a matter of pride. Where the hell were they? There wasn't any empty shelf space to indicate they might be out of stock, either, so where the hell were those freaking pickles?
"Having trouble?" someone said, and Miles jumped. He hadn't heard anyone approaching. When he turned to see who it was, his heart did a humiliating little lurch, and his irritation all but melted away.
"Oh – it's you. I didn't think you'd be working now."
Phoenix grinned as widely as he ever did, adjusting his grip on the basket of peanut butter jars he was carrying. "Well, I wasn't expecting to see my favorite customer at this time of night either, but here we are! Need some help?"
Miles was terrified for a moment that he might be blushing. "Favorite customer? You don't even know my name."
Phoenix laughed. "Good point. What's your name?"
"That's kind of a weird first name," Phoenix remarked, scratching the back of his head. "Although I guess I'm not one to talk."
Miles snorted, averting his gaze. "That's because it isn't my first name; it's my last. Are you telling me that someone really named you Phoenix?"
Phoenix ignored Miles' dig at his name, brows furrowing in confusion. "Well, what's your first name, then?"
"Why should I tell you?"
"I told you! You're my favorite customer. You've always got that scowl on your face, like you can't believe you're being forced to go shopping, again – it's hilarious." Phoenix laughed again, then leaned in close and whispered in Miles' ear: "Actually, I bet half the old ladies only stand in my line because that's where you are. Quite a few of them have told me they think you're adorable, you know."
Miles shivered. Phoenix's breath was warm, his voice was low, and it took a moment to process what he'd actually said as opposed to just how he'd said it.
"What about you?" he asked, then immediately regretted it. Miles crouched down on the pretense of examining a lower shelf, and clenched his teeth. Why had he said that. Damn it, he was definitely blushing now.
Phoenix began unloading his basket of peanut butter onto the shelf. His voice, when he next spoke, was unconcerned, if a bit musing. "Well, I guess it's possible… But I don't really think so." He glanced down at the same time as Miles jerked his head up, and their eyes met. Phoenix grinned. "They're not really very shy, you know? I don't think they'd hesitate to let me know if they thought I was adorable."
It took Miles a moment to catch up. He sighed, relieved. "I forgot. You're an idiot."
Phoenix scowled – "Hey, that's uncalled for!" – and dropped a hand down on Miles' head just as he was standing up. He ruffled Miles' hair roughly, then stepped back, looking satisfied. "That'll show you."
Miles took a long moment to compose himself, before he reached up and pushed his long bangs back out of his face. He was very careful to be scowling as he did so, but he couldn't really do anything about the redness of his cheeks. "That's no way to treat a customer."
Phoenix's eyes widened. "Oops! You're right. Here," he bowed, presenting the top of his head. "Do me."
Miles resisted the urge to slam his head against the shelf. That had to be on purpose. "No thanks. I'd rather not stab myself on your quills."
Phoenix straightened – and of course, he was grinning. "Oh come on, my hair's not that spiky."
Miles raised an eyebrow noncommittally.
"I guess you might think it was though, at least in comparison." Phoenix's grin shifted into a small, teasing smile. "Your hair's really soft, I bet you wash it like three times a day."
Miles took a deep breath. "I'm looking for sliced dill pickles."
For a moment, Phoenix looked rather disappointed. But then his smile returned and he placed his last few cans of peanut butter on the shelf. "Oh yeah, right. Follow me."
He led the way to the canned goods aisle. Hidden on the top shelf, between overlarge jars of creamed mushroom soup and a prodigious selection of olives, were the elusive pickles. Miles' mouth dropped open. "That doesn't make any sense."
Phoenix shrugged. "Hey, don't blame me. I didn't put them there. Here, let me grab you some – how many cans?"
Miles watched Phoenix stretching towards the top shelf, his shirt lifting and exposing a sliver of his back, his strong shoulders clearly defined against the fabric. He cleared his throat a little before answering. "Just one."
Their hands touched when Phoenix handed him the bottle. This was getting ridiculous. "Is that all you're getting?" Phoenix asked. Miles nodded.
"My father is having a desperate craving for sliced dill pickles tonight," he muttered, feeling as though he needed an excuse for some reason.
Phoenix shrugged. "Well, c'mon then. I'll ring you up."
He started to lead the way to the cash registers. Miles followed, protesting weakly. "There's some other people there already, you don't need to…"
Phoenix shook his head firmly. "No, you don't want them. Winston's kind of jerk, Frank is definitely a jerk, and I think Wendy wants to eat you." He stopped, then turned around to address Miles directly. "Seriously, don't ever let Wendy check you out. We might never see you again."
"Okay…?" Miles chanced a glance towards the front of the store. The old lady was staring at them.
Phoenix grinned. "I think it's better all around if you just stick with me, okay?"
Miles began walking again, unwilling to answer that. Phoenix rang him up relatively quietly as well, although conversation did resume a little when Miles noticed that he was getting a discount he hadn't earned.
"I don't need that," he said.
Phoenix reached over the counter and patted him on the shoulder. Miles stared at his hand for a moment, until he drew it back. "Don't worry about it. It's my thanks to you – normally I hate working this shift." He jerked a thumb over his shoulder at the other cashiers, who were reading a magazine, snoring, and staring creepily at Miles (how had he never noticed that before?) respectively. "Those guys are no fun."
It was pointless to argue. Miles sighed. "Fine. Thank you."
Phoenix grinned yet again, and held out Miles' change in a cupped hand. "Here you go."
His hand was warm, and lingered a moment. This was why Miles always paid with his card. "Miles," he blurted.
Phoenix's eyes widened. "What?"
Miles huffed, irritated. "My first name is Miles. See you."
He walked swiftly out of the store, only to stop as soon as he'd rounded the corner and drop his face into his hands, groaning. "Ugh… stupid," he muttered.
"What's stupid?" came a familiar voice from behind him. Miles jumped and spun around – it was Phoenix, carrying a shopping bag. He grinned. "You forgot your pickles."
Miles felt his face flush, and hoped it was too dark outside to see. Judging by the way Phoenix's smile widened, there was still plenty of light. He snatched the bag.
"Goodbye," Miles snarled, turning to go.
Phoenix laughed out loud, but didn't attempt to stop him. He just waved. "Bye, Miles! I look forward to seeing you on Monday!"
Fuck, he knew what days Miles came. Of course he did. Miles hunched his shoulders and kept walking. He threw the pickles at his dad as soon as he arrived home, then retreated to his room to throw himself across his bed, shove his face into his pillow, and mumble every swearword he knew six times each. When he was done, he rolled over onto his back and stared up at the ceiling. That had been the most mortifying evening of his life.
…Phoenix had called him his favorite customer. He'd known what days Miles shopped. He had said he was looking forward to seeing him again. And the discount, and the touching, and – and hell, he'd been flirting.
Miles groaned, humiliation instantly doubled, but he was grinning even as he smacked his hands over his face. This put the evening in a much better light.
"I'm looking forward to seeing you on Monday, too, Phoenix," he mumbled into his hands, then laughed. "I can't believe I want to go shopping so badly."
Phoenix's smile drifted into his head. That sly grin, that laugh. The way his body had looked as he stretched up to the top shelf, all long and lean and so tempting it had been all Miles could do not to touch. …And he had been flirting.
Miles might hate chain stores, but their employees were a different matter entirely.